Unfinished Business,
Dungeons & Dragons

 

home / season six / episode seventeen / act I

   

The Tower, The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

The team was settled around the table for the tenth meeting in a week. Miss Parker finished giving her latest update on the progress of the newest security installations, supplemented by the information she had uncovered about the abduction of the children, and sat down as the Chairman stood.

"We're no closer to finding who took the children," the Chairman admitted grudgingly. "So we feel the need to increase our security. For this reason, the other two Directors and I have decided that the heads of the security teams in Germany and South Africa should meet here for a series of discussions tomorrow and the day after. We're hoping to create a blanket security system that will be more widely effective, using all of our combined resources."

Miss Parker looked up sharply, noticing that the man commonly recognized as her father was refusing to meet her eye. Morgan wasn't surprised. The meeting had been her idea, and hers alone, and the Chairman had been so pleased that he had vowed to acknowledge her when announcing it. It was yet another unkept promise, and lately she had been grinding his nose in them, metaphorically speaking, of course. His uncomfortable demeanor suggested that he was aware another such situation would soon be forthcoming.

Before Mr. Parker could continue to speak, however, the air of concentration in the room was disrupted by the sound of a loud siren. Morgan leapt to her feet. Without waiting for dismissal, she left the room and ran down the several flights of stairs to SIS, bursting in as Broots was leaving to find her.

"What's going on?"

"The motion detectors in the vents on SL-17 have picked up something, Miss Parker," one of the men hunched over a computer told her, his screen showing the movement as the figure scurried along the passageways, obviously disoriented by the lights that were illuminating the formerly dark tunnels. Miss Parker recognized the form instantly.

"Angelo," she muttered. Turning, she found Sam waiting at her elbow.

"Get him out of there," she ordered. "But there's no need to be rough about it. And," Morgan added to the room at large, "let's get these sirens turned off before they send us all around the bend."

The silence that followed this was almost stunning, and she turned to see Sydney standing in the doorway, just as she had been about to send Broots to look for him.

"Come to my office," she ordered. "We have to work this out."

* * * * * * * * *

Miss Parker's Office, SIS

"We can't keep Angelo away from there," Sydney explained. "I've been trying, but, as soon as he's unsupervised, it's the place he heads for." The psychiatrist surreptitiously eyed the man who sat opposite. "It's almost as if he had some connection to the children."

"How long has this been going on?" Mr. Parker growled, ignoring the last point, his hand tapping impatiently on the folder that contained the results of the interrupted meeting.

"As long as the children have been here," the woman responded succinctly. "There's footage on DSAs that show Angelo has been sneaking into the nursery at all hours since the children first came here."

"So what are we going to do about it?" the Chairman snapped. "That's the third alarm he's set off since we began sealing the vents."

"That is the place he feels most comfortable," Sydney replied, aware that the question had been directed at him. "I've been wondering if it's possible to set aside part of it, unmonitored, so that …"

"It's not possible," Miss Parker interrupted. "That system was set up to cover the entire area. We can't shut it off without closing the whole network down for an hour or more, and that would expose us to the threat of losing more projects."

Mr. Parker nodded firmly. "That's a good point, Angel."

The woman glanced away, supposedly to look through a folder she held, while the Chairman turned back to the psychiatrist.

"Isn't there any other way to keep him to the rooms we assigned him?"

"Short of guarding him around the clock," Sydney proposed, "the only other option I came up with is for Angelo to be allowed access to those rooms while they're empty. His aim seems to be to get near them, and if he was inside, he might be less likely to find a way into the vents and set off the alarm."

Mr. Parker looked doubtful. Sydney paused for a moment before continuing.

"There's also the possibility that, if he spends time in the rooms where the children were and is allowed access to the toys and games they used, he may be able to empath enough of their senses to find out where they are."

The Chairman's expression of doubt faded to one of interest. "You think it's possible?"

"We've never fully understood Angelo's capabilities, Mr. Parker," Sydney told him firmly. "The time I've been working with him has convinced me that he has skills we haven't even started to consider. Who knows what he might be capable of, if he was allowed to do what he wanted rather than what somebody else wants?"

As the psychiatrist finished this rhetorical question, Miss Parker jumped in, forcing a note of eagerness into her voice. "If we did, that might be the closest we've come yet to finding my brother, Daddy! You can't deny us the chance to find out if it works! Please!"

* * * * * * * * *

Miss Parker closed the door behind the Chairman and turned to where Sydney had remained seated opposite her desk. The woman's eyes wandered over to where the empath lay, curled up in the corner of her office, gradually getting over his ordeal, and then traveled back to the psychiatrist.

"What was that all about?"

"Making Angelo happy," Sydney told her firmly.

She sat down behind her desk, eyeing him. "Do you really think he could work that out?"

The psychiatrist shrugged. "It's possible. What isn't likely, however, is that Angelo will be able to tell anyone he meets anything he might have empathed."

Miss Parker raised an eyebrow. "As long as you can stop him wandering all over the Centre, we'll be the only people he 'meets.'"

Sydney nodded slightly, his eyes twinkling. "I know."

Her lips slowly curled into a smile and Morgan was unable to suppress a chuckle. "Well, then, I suppose you'd better start acclimating Angelo to his new quarters."

The psychiatrist stood up immediately, taking firm hold of his cane. "At once, Miss Parker."

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

"Mr. Lyle?"

The man looked up as the sweeper appeared in the doorway. "What is it?"

"There was a reported sighting on the woman you asked me to keep an eye out for, sir."

"Good." Lyle took the folder and glanced through it before looking up again. "Would you ask Valentine to come here?"

"Of course, Mr. Lyle." Charles left the office as Lyle began reading the report that an office in Virginia had spotted the woman.

"You wanted something, Boss?" Valentine strolled into the office and sat down in a chair on the other side of the desk.

"Her." Lyle tossed the photo across the desk. "Did you read the report about the last time we got close?"

"And Jarod jumped in and saved her, again," Valentine grinned. "Of course."

"I want you to go down and take care of it."

"You know," the sweeper commented thoughtfully, "considering her heritage -- Jarod's sister and all -- I really don't understand why you just want to wipe her off the map. Why not get her in here? For all we know, she could have the same skills as her brothers."

"It wasn't my choice." Lyle shrugged. "Raines wanted her taken care of -- "

"Why?" Valentine interrupted.

"Somehow, she found out about Mirage," the other man responded. "And, after Dad found out about what had happened, he backed the order."

"So you tossed her out a window," Valentine finished with a grin. "Didn't seem to work, did it?"

"That's why I'm relying on you to get it right this time."

Valentine leaned on the desk, his eyes gleaming. "I have a better idea."

* * * * * * * * *

Boise, Idaho

Jarod lifted the last case out of the plane and carried it over to a trolley that waited nearby, thankfully lowering it onto the flat surface. Straightening his back with an exaggerated groan, he then grinned as Ramona walked over, rolling her eyes and wrapping her arms more firmly around the folder of progress notes on the new venture Pele was setting up in that town.

"Wimp," the woman teased. "Maybe I should have done it instead."

"I could have been waiting all night," he joked. "But that's everything. If you could just get it taken up to my room, I'll sort it when I get back."

"That's tomorrow, right?" she asked.

"Yeah. I'm meeting my sister for dinner tonight," he told her. "We haven't seen each other for a while, so this'll be good."

"I'm sure it will." She nodded at the two bags that stood off to one side. "You taking those with you?"

"Uh huh." He picked up the DSA player and his duffel bag. "My essentials."

"Creature of habit," she remarked somewhat ironically. "Okay, we'll see you back in Dallas in the morning."

"Bye."

Jarod let her push the trolley towards the large plane that waited on the tarmac a relatively short distance away and walked towards the small building that constituted the airport. He was tired, having had to wait for a low-pressure system over Barrow to move so that he could go and collect the last few things that had been left after his father and son had come down to Texas. The weather had only cleared late the night before, so he had flown up immediately and, as a result, wanted to sleep before he met Emily for dinner. He knew that she worried about him, just as he was anxious about her, and didn't want to give her unnecessary cause for concern.

He hired a car and drove to a hotel that Ramona had suggested to him, booking a room for the night and making his way to it. Once there, he stretched out on the bed, hoping that his recent nights of more peaceful sleep would continue.

* * * * * * * * *

3 Kennedy Avenue
Blue Cove, Delaware

Cox stalked up the stairs from the basement and halted at the top, turning to glare down into the darkness.

"That had better be finished by the time I get home," he spat. "You've wasted an entire night and come up with nothing to show for it! If it isn't done, you won't get any food until it is."

He turned away, but looked back sharply at a soft, almost indistinguishable sound.

"And stop that damned crying," he growled softly, slamming the door so hard that the window shook, before firmly turning the key. Yanking it out of the lock, Cox hung it on a hook beside the door and checked that everything was secure.

Picking up a briefcase that lay on the kitchen table, he pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and activated it as he left the house.

"Alex? It's me. Don't worry about coming around today. He doesn't deserve you to."

Obviously the man on the other end demurred, because Cox slammed the door of the house as loudly as he had shut the cellar door, punching a code into a box beside the door.

"No, he doesn't! I said no and I mean it!"

Disconnecting the call, he unlocked the car and opened the driving door. Throwing the case onto the passenger seat, he slid the cell phone into his pocket, straightened his tie and then got into the vehicle, starting it up and driving away.

* * * * * * * * *

Prometheus Building
Dallas, Texas

Trevor poked his head into the room where Elizabeth was just getting out of bed.

"Good almost-afternoon, sleepyhead."

"Hey, I'm up early," she protested indignantly as she seized a gown to preserve her modesty. "And I could be just as insulting about the things you dreamt last night, but won't, because I'm so nice."

"I think that's questionable," the man teased as he strolled in.

"You know, polite people knock."

"I didn't want to wake you if you were still asleep."

"Well, I'm awake now, so shoo."

Trevor looked hurt as he sat on the end of the bed. "And I thought you liked me."

"We've gone into this debate several times, and I always come out of it badly," Elizabeth told him. "So I'm not even going to start."

"Don't you even want to know what I want?"

"Going by what I saw in your head last night, no, not really."

The man raised an eyebrow. "I think that's cheating."

"Oh, and you don't, poking into a poor, innocent Australian girl's mind as she walks past you on the street?"

"Okay, so maybe I do." Trevor suddenly remembered in painful clarity a dream he'd enjoyed the night before, and, hoping devoutly she hadn't been paying attention at the time, changed the subject. "Anyway, the reason I'm here…"

"Apart from making my life a misery," she interrupted.

"Well, you look very un-miserable, but I'm sure it's deep inside somewhere." He grinned for a moment before becoming serious. "Did you know Faith's sick?"

"I knew she was heading for it," Elizabeth admitted. "She was pretty feverish last night, but wouldn't let me call anyone."

"Cam called one of the doctors to her this morning, but he won't let her get up to take care of Angelique, and we don't want the kids exposed to infections anyway, because we don't know how they would react to illness, so we were wondering…"

"Would you get to the point?" she snapped, becoming exasperated as the air-conditioning kicked in and a draught blew into the room, making her shiver slightly.

"Sebastian wants you to look after her today," Trevor finished, somewhat startlingly as far as the woman was concerned.

"Me?!"

The man's dark eyes twinkled. "Why not?"

"I don't take care of kids! Especially not those kids. I feel like someone from the Stone Age in comparison to their knowledge."

"Hey, nobody's asking you to teach them advanced physics. All you have to do is play with her."

"I haven't had anything to do with them."

"So this is a good time to start."

"Why can't you do it? Or Cam? He's good with the kids."

"She's always had a woman, and it's important that she have some continuity."

"What's wrong with Sumi… or Ramona? And how about Nancy? That is her job, after all."

"Ramona has meetings for most of the day, and Sumi's helping to take care of Faith." Trevor shot her a disapproving look. "And you should know Nancy is off at that training course. She left last night, before Faith got sick."

Elizabeth hid under the covers. "I'm sorry," she wailed in a muffled voice. "Forgive me for that terrible lapse of memory, beloved master, even though you've just thrown the equivalent of a mental lump of cement at my brain!"

Grinning, he pulled back the blanket. "Funny. Not hilarious, but funny."

"Eh, I try," she shrugged, before remembering their former topic of conversation and looking up at him, pleading with her eyes. "And there's not a single other woman…?"

"None," Trevor interrupted firmly. "It won't kill you, for one day, and you might discover that you even like it."

"Pigs," she snorted, and the man looked startled.

"I beg your pardon."

"Pigs might fly," she told him. "But, as I don't appear to have a choice, would you kindly leave me in peace so that I can at least be decently dressed rather than appearing in my pajamas and dressing gown."

"You might want to try it." Trevor grinned and dimples appeared in his cheeks as he headed for the door. "It's kind of fetching."

* * * * * * * * *

The room was stuffy and hot, despite the cold air that blew through the cracks in the windows and caused him to shiver whenever it touched him. His work created sour smells that almost made him retch, but he swallowed the urge, squinting at the tiny writing with eyes that longed to close. It was incredibly tempting to rub them, to ease away the soreness, but he knew what punishment would follow, so he kept his hands by his sides.

The light streamed down onto the table, beakers and test tubes gathered in a pile on the flat surface with sheets of paper scattered around them. He reached out for the tube, tentatively removing it from the Bunsen burner where it was heating and about to pour it into another beaker when he felt a sharp slap to the back of his head.

"Idiot," a voice snarled. "Don't be stupid, Echo."

Tears stung his eyes, but he lowered his head and looked back at the writing as it danced on the page in front of him. Correcting his earlier mistake, he completed the process and then turned to look up into the dark shape that stood behind him.

"That's it, sir."

"I should hope so," the man snapped, reaching out to snatch the vial that the trembling hand offered. "We've wasted enough time as it is." A pale hand pointed through the darkness to the blackest corner of the room. "Now get back where you belong!"

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

"You've tried getting to Jarod before by killing the people he cares about," Valentine began, sitting back in his chair. "It didn't do a lot of good. It doesn't leave him anything to work for -- or for us to tempt him with."

"You're suggesting abduction," Lyle interrupted. "We've tried that one, too. It didn't work when we took Zoe either."

"But look at what you were working with," the sweeper stated patronizingly. "Four sweepers and the two of you, so Jarod's father could take you completely by surprise. This time we'll be ready."

"So what do we do when we get her?"

"We wait for Jarod's reaction," Valentine told him, his eyes sparkling with anticipation. "If we don't get the response we want, then we can do what we like with her."

Lyle quickly reread through the single page report that he had received, a smile beginning to curl the corners of his mouth as he considered the situation. After a silence of several minutes he looked up.

"All right. Let's do it."

* * * * * * * * *

Prometheus Building
Dallas, Texas

Sebastian strolled over to Elizabeth as she appeared in the doorway, trying to hide his feeling of amusement at the nervous look on her face.

"I'm never going to forgive you for this," she growled softly.

"Promises, promises." He slid an arm around her shoulders. "Look, Elizabeth, it's only for one day. I hope. And if you show that sort of emotion to Angelique, she'll pick up on it right away."

"What emotion?" She shrugged. "I doubt she'll pick up on anything."

The man arched an eyebrow, watching her wander over to a table where several children sat painting, casting surreptitious glances at the little girl who sat on the floor nearby, cradling her doll. By degrees, Elizabeth moved over until she was sitting a short distance away.

"Where's Mommy?" Angelique asked plaintively.

"Your Mommy's not feeling very well," the woman explained gently. "She'll stay in bed today, and maybe she'll feel better tomorrow. And Nancy will be back this afternoon."

"Who are you?" she demanded after a moment.

"I'm Elizabeth," the woman smiled. "What would you like to do?" Picking up a book, she held it out to the child. "Shall we read this? You enjoy it, don't you?"

The girl's large, blue eyes examined her for a moment, a small cleft appearing on the girl's forehead as something clearly puzzled her. Elizabeth put the book down and turned candid eyes to the child.

"What is it, Angelique? What's wrong?"

"Lizbet is flat."

"I'm sorry," she said softly. "But I don't understand."

Angelique took a firmer hold of the doll, her eyes revealing her confusion. "People make noise. Jawid said so. But you hide."

"You mean that you can't feel my emotions," the woman clarified after a second of thought. "I guess that's true, although I hadn't though about it before."

The girl's head tilted to one side. "How come?"

Elizabeth had to laugh. This was the reason she hadn't wanted to work with these children: a definite difficulty in answering their questions. Still, she tried to come up with an explanation that would be both plausible and comprehensible. In resettling herself, the woman moved a little closer to the girl, but Angelique remained where she was. Encouraged, Elizabeth began to speak.

"You know at night, when you close your eyes, and your mind gives you pictures?"

The child nodded slowly.

"When I was a very little girl, I used to see pictures in other people's heads, called dreams. When I saw them, I knew what they'd feel when they dreamt them. So I learnt how to push away all of the bad dreams until they didn't feel those things and hurt people anymore."

The girl's eyes bore an expression of curiosity. "Dreams are real?"

"Not like you and me," Elizabeth admitted. "But they can hurt people, like feelings hurt you, so I lock them up inside me." She placed a hand on her chest. "But I don't want the feelings to hurt me either, so I push them down inside. They lie on top of what I feel and so my feelings don't come out."

"What you feel?"

The woman's eyes glowed with anticipation. "Do you want to see a bit?"

Angelique flinched away immediately, her eyes widening with fear, shaking her head.

"It won't hurt," the woman promised. "Maybe you'll even like it."

The child hugged her doll tightly, considering. There were faint whispers from this person and they didn't hurt. But Angelique was scared of what the whole person might be like. Slowly, as the girl pressed back against the wall, Elizabeth pushed aside the emotions that weighed her down during so much of the day.

Angelique felt the emotion brush against her, light as a feather, and sensed laughter, fun, the same emotions that the other Seraphim had radiated for the first few days at their new home and continued to do on occasion. Gradually, a smile formed on the child's face, curling the corners of her mouth as she felt the echoes of giggling, a merriment that the woman opposite her was sometimes unable to suppress. This feeling was nice. It didn't hurt, and Angelique's eyes pleaded with the woman to show more.

Elizabeth felt the weight crushing down on her again. That was the problem with living here, spending so much of her energy absorbing worse dreams than she had imagined could exist. It was a burden she carried around, and she had never found a way of getting rid of it, much as she often longed to. Feeling almost breathless, Elizabeth leaned back against the wall and briefly closed her eyes.

There was a small rustle and then Angelique was sitting in the woman's lap with the book in her hand. Elizabeth opened her eyes, instinctively wrapping her arms around the girl, and took the book, opening it at the first page and resting her chin gently on the small child's head as she began to read.

* * * * * * * * *

Boise, Idaho

Jarod slipped a disk into the DSA player and quickly scanned through it, glaring at the images that flashed before his eyes. With a frustrated shake of his head, he yanked the disc out and dropped it onto the bed, glancing at the silver circles that already decorated the bedspread before pulling another disk out of the rack and sliding it in. After several minutes of silence, the same act was repeated, but he held this DSA in his hand, glaring down at it, as the sharp edges pressed into his palm.

"Where are you?" he muttered. "When are you? What was I doing?"

He had woken from his nap almost an hour earlier with his heart pounding, his breath coming raggedly, but the dream had left him with only indistinct visions of a dark room and a long table. Knowing that the images were too vague to call Sydney and get an answer, Jarod got off the bed, beginning to pace the length of the room. Despite knowing the futility of such an act, the man was still tempted to ring his mentor, just to try and work out the source of his current nightmare.

Even as he was reaching for the cell phone that was in the pocket of his coat, however, Jarod heard it ring and hurriedly yanked it out.

"Hello?"

"Dad?"

Jarod smiled, sinking back onto the bed with care for the DSAs. "Hi, son. Everything okay?"

"I have to talk to you."

"Sure. Go ahead."

Tucking the phone under his chin, Jarod began to gather the discs together, sorting them into order and slotting them into the racks, as Jordan started to speak.

"I had this really weird dream last night. I was going to wait 'till you came back to tell you, 'cause I'd forgotten you were staying overnight there, but I really want to talk about it now."

"I'm sorry, Jordan," Jarod apologized. "If I'd known you were going to need me, I would've come back."

"It doesn't matter, I guess," the young man returned uncertainly. "But can I tell you anyway?"

"Of course you can."

"Okay." Jordan let out a long, slow breath before beginning to speak. "You know I've been having trouble sleeping for the last few weeks, and you've been telling me to get more, but I was finding it really hard. Well, last night after you left for Barrow, I decided I'd really try, so I went to bed early and all, but I had this really weird dream, about being at Donoterase, or the Centre, or somewhere. I can't say where it is, exactly. All I know is, it's dark. I'm sitting at a table and there's a sim laid out in front of me -- a whole lot of scientific equipment. There's someone overseeing it. I can hear footsteps behind me, but when I turn to look at whoever it is, I get the back of my head slapped."

By this time, Jarod had stopped packing the discs away and was now staring blankly down at the floor, his eyes wide and his mouth slightly open. When Jordan paused, he choked out two words.

"Go on."

"The room smells weird too -- kind of damp, like it doesn't get much sun and isn't aired often. When I finally finish the sim, the person leaves and shuts the door. I can hear it being locked and I know that my only bed is a blanket on the floor." Jordan stopped suddenly. "Dad, I don't know what this is. It isn't me -- I'm sure of it. I don't remember doing that."

"Nor do I," Jarod whispered faintly.

There was silence on the other end, before Jordan exploded. "But you have to, Dad! If this isn't me then it has to be you!"

Jarod forced himself to calm down, hearing the panic in his younger counterpart's voice, and straightened his shoulders, taking a deep breath before he spoke, breaking into the questions that were frantically being fired at him from the other end of the line.

"Jordan, listen to me. Whatever this is, we'll figure it out, okay? I promise we'll work out what it is. Do you hear me?"

"Uh huh." On the other end, the boy took another audible breath.

"Good." Jarod crossed his legs on the bed and changed the phone to his other ear, pulling his laptop out of its satchel and switching it on. "First, I want you to tell me whatever else you can remember about the dream. A name, a strange word, anything."

"But…" Jordan's voice revealed his confusion. "You've been having them too, Dad. Why don't you know? How come you're asking me?"

Taking another deep breath, Jarod stared hard at the floor. "They don't seem quite the same, son. I saw the basics you did -- the room and the equipment -- but I don't remember there being anyone else there, nor the smells or the bed that you mentioned."

"How come?"

Jarod half-smiled at the boy's curiosity. "I'm afraid I don't know that yet, Jordan. Maybe, when we know what this is about, we'll be able to figure out the answer to that question."

On to Act II

 
  The Pretender - NBC, All rights reserved.
Web Maintenance by Rayhne
  home | primer | season five | season six | staff | updates | guestbook
"Ownership of the characters of The Pretender is property of NBC/TNT/Pretender Productions. Copyright of the original works on this site, including title graphics and written episodes, are the property of their creators and the VS site only, and may not be used without express written consent of the authors/artists/webmaster."